Geneva Airport. July 2007. It’s a two-hour wait in Terminal 3 before boarding for sleepy-eyed Clara. Coffee is helping. She is headed for the Montreux Festival, to open for Matthew Jonson’s Cobblestone Jazz. Only a few weeks back, she was performing at Barcelona’s Sonar, making this her second appearance at a major international festival. Born in Graz, a pretty Austrian town steeped in history, she grew up in a house filled with the instruments her parents had collected over time.
There was a piano on which she practised as a teenager and a hi-fi system on which she played Kruder & Dorfmeister’s and De La Soul’s latest productions on repeat. Clara loved the idea and feel of vinyl. She cut her teeth playing records on Tuesday nights at her student bar. A small team began to form around her, soon followed by the launch of the Houseverbot label and the Birds parties, Postgarage’s flagship minimal nights. As one thing led to another, the club’s main resident – under her new “Clara Moto” moniker – spun her microgrooves all the way to the capital, Vienna, and its festivals (Elevate, Springs). Autumn 2006. Melbourne.
Clara was selected to attend the Red Bull Academy, a platform for up-and-coming talents, invited over the course of a few weeks to perfect their studio technique and meet professionals. Also part of the talent pool that year were Flying Lotus and Douglas Greed. The Academy organises tours for its best students, who get to perform at major European festivals on a dedicated stage. Which takes us back to where our story began: Geneva Airport. The Montreux Jazz Festival. Chance encounter in Terminal 3. An enthusiastic young French Dj tells her all about the label he has just set up together with a few friends, his first protégés Francesco Tristano and Danton Eeprom and his desire to develop and nurture young talent. Agoria is his name, and InFiné the label.
Fast forward to Autumn 2007. InFiné releases Clara Moto’s “Glove Affair”, a firm-handed, delicious minimal house cut. One year later, and it’s with the release of “Silently”, a light and fluffy tune featuring a killer chorus that Clara, with the help of Mimu on vocals, reveals a strong penchant for pop. As 2010 dawns and her first album is released, Clara provides ample proof of her allegiance to electronic music. Her affection for the genre comes in many forms, each imbued with her unique brand of femininity, and she embraces it in all its diversity and spontaneity. Clara takes life snapshots, fragments of emotions and her daily – and nightly – perceptions and turns them into sounds. So it is quite appropriate that the opening track should be named after a character in The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. Clara Moto is polyamorous: the full-on intensity of simple little love stories moves her more than relational exclusivity agreements of epic proportions.
Three years later, Clara returned with her second full-length, an album that is every bit as close up and personal as her debut, but at the same time more intricate and thoughtful, more introspective and melancholic than its predecessor. 'Blue Distance' is named after a line from a poem by Sylvia Plath and circles around the theme of remoteness. It is inspired by Clara's own experience of frequent relocation and travel, but also by the distance that a musician feels separating her from her listeners, and the constant longing – and ultimate impossibility – to bridge this gap with one's work.
What’s your favourite piece of gear – something you couldn’t live without?
I guess it is most probably my DX 7. My dad bought it when I was five and my brother and I used to play with it a lot when we were little. Every where I moved, it came with me - it is always in my studio. The only thing that is really constant there. Even though I cannot program it completely, I love the sounds of it.
Which do you prefer – playing at enormous festivals or intimate clubs?
Of course both options are really nice, but if I had to choose I would choose enormous festivals. I really like the energy of big crowds - this is very special. When you play in front a lot of people, you get really excited and also lots of adrenalin. Sometimes it is unreal. Also, I tend to be more nervous when I play at intimate clubs than big festivals - especially when there are good friends in the audience
Which is the most mesmerising club that you’ve ever played at?
I think maybe D-Edge Club in Brasil was one of the most mesmerizing gigs I ever played. The atmosphere and the audience were extremely great and I really enjoyed Sao Paulo. Moreover the sound system there is just perfect!
What is your best and worst experience at a gig and why?
Well, having bad gigs mean sometimes that I just did not fit to the rest of the line-up. I remember warm-up DJs opening up way too hard and fast, and then it is difficult to continue. Sometimes I played in France together with Ed Banger artists, who were really nice but our music just did not fit together.
Overall - there are far more good experiences than bad ones of course - playing at the beach at the incredible Festival Calvi on the Rocks or a prime time set at Fusion Festival for example.
Do you have any interests beside music?
I studied literature, linguistics and business as well, so this is something I am very interested in - I read quite a lot. Also, I do lots of sports, like running and yoga.
Do you enjoy sunset or sunrise sets?
Both are great, but I really like getting up early and play a fresh sunrise set with a coffee in front of many wasted but very happy people.
What do you like and what do you hate about the music industry?
I still don't like the gender inequality, especially at festivals. There are many women out there, so promoters just have to dig a bit deeper and not book the usual suspects. This has not changed much since I started, sadly. What I like is the creativity, the constant thrive to set new trends and the openness towards different life concepts.
If you could pick any artist to do a b2b set, who would it be?
I’d love to play with Roisin Murphy or Björk - I admire both of them so much and they have been my inspiration forever.
What’s your biggest fear?
That I lose my hearing during a gig and I don't notice it - like Beethoven.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a gig?
There are many funny moments - so it is difficult to pick one. But I remember that I played a closing set in La Reunion and the audience was extremely (!!!) motivated and has been screaming all the time.
At the end everybody came on stage and danced right next to me - nobody was on the dance floor anymore. The heat was definitely on - it was super hot then on stage with all that people dancing and jumping.
Could you pick one timeless track?
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Check out my new EP „Gone by the morning“ out on Infine Records.